SUP Women | Holly Bassett | Great Britain’s 16-Year-Old Champion
Bright-eyed and only 16 years old, the UK SUP Surfing Champion, Holly Bassett, loves to spend her time training. And that love for training has paid off; Bassett's been the reigning National SUP Surfing Champion in the UK since 2012, when she first won the British Standup Paddle Association (BSUPA) Junior division. Since then, she's continued to take the BSUPA Women's titles (in addition to also taking the Junior's in 2013), and represented Great Britain at the ISA World SUP and Paddleboard Championship. While she's doing her best to focus on finishing her education, Bassett is ready to make up for all of the water time she's lost while hitting the books, and has some key advice for teens wanting to pursue high levels of competition in SUP. —Shari Coble
SUP: Tell us about your athletic background.
HB: I've always been into water sports, [starting] as young of an age as 3; by then I was already on a windsurfer with my dad, and I've been a windsurfer and a lover of the ocean from then on. Surfing and swimming were two of my main sports as I was growing up: surfing foamies at West Wittering on the weekends and swimming four times a week after school, then competing at galas on the weekends.
As my swimming turned into training, I began playing tennis. I must have started SUP when I was about 10 [years old], and only really did it on flatwater, recreationally, having learned from my Dad at X-Train on West Wittering Beach. A couple of years after that, I began competing at some of the BSUPA National Series events for fun.
You're the UK's top paddle surfer at age 16; what does it take to get to that level so young?
Seeing as the conditions are generally very average in the UK, my schoolwork and social side get sacrificed–but it's definitely worth it!
This year's training has been pretty hard. Having won nationals in October, I returned to my training really motivated for Mexico (and the ISA WSUPPC), but in November my training was drastically reduced through to February, as I was so ill with glandular fever. It took me a good month to get over it all. By March I was slowly building up to my usual routine. I love training though—I have no issue with waking up early for it or staying up late to fit it in; I don’t find it a chore in the slightest. As much as I'd love to be travelling all year-round, I’m still in college and have one year left at Seaford, so my surfing is compromised because of this.
How do you prepare for competitions?
I have a personal trainer, Caroline Taylor (Pink Phys), who builds me up for competition physically. The closer I feel to competing, the less pressure I put on myself.
What motivates you to continue competing?
I am competitive, and I would love to someday be higher up in the rankings, but for now—seeing as I'm still in full-time education—I'm working on bettering my technique, fitness, and ability on the water, so that when college ends I'll be able to go catch up on all the water time I’ve been missing out on.
What kind of advice would you give other teens that want to be successful in SUP like you?
Just get out on the water as often as possible; especially in the UK, as the conditions are not in our favor.
Go for always making yourself better, rather than beating someone else. When you feel you're at your best ability, you shouldn't have to worry about anyone else on the water, and you enjoy it so much more.
Featured image courtesy of Holly Bassett’s Facebook.